Chinese tech giant Alibaba reported revenues of 34.5 billion, or $5.3 billion at current exchange, for the quarter ending December 31, an increase of 32 percent on the year.
The main driver of this better-than-expected growth was the company’s core e-commerce businesses, with retail marketplace revenue reaching 28.8 billion yuan for the quarter, or $4.4 billion, an increase of 35 percent over the same period in 2014.
Gross merchandise volume was 964 billion yuan, or $149 billion, an increase of 23 percent year-on-year, with mobile GMV accounting for 68 percent of the total. Mobile revenue for the quarter was 18 million yuan, or $2.9 million, an increase of 192 percent on the year.
“We’re crushing it on mobile,” Joseph Tsai, executive vice chairman of Alibaba Group, told investors on an earnings call prior to the start of New York trading on Thursday.
By the end of the December quarter, Alibaba’s annual active buyers grew to 407 million, the first time the company has breached the 400 million mark. This increase in active buyers was singled out as an important driver of future long-term revenue growth.
According to both Tsai and Alibaba Group chief executive officer Daniel Zhang, China’s shift from an investment to consumption economy provides plenty of opportunity for a company with so many consumers.
“We believe Alibaba has a significant opportunity from China’s increasing consumption economy,” Zhang said, pointing to the urbanizing middle class as well as “young people with strong appetites for spending but little appetite for saving like their parents.”
“We remain focused on our top strategic priorities, including global imports, rural expansion, increasing our footprint in first-tier Chinese cities and building a world-class cloud computing business,” Zhang told investors.
Just 16 months ago, Alibaba Group pulled off the biggest initial public offering ever. According to some analysts, this initial success was largely because the company was treated as a proxy for the Chinese economy. As the broader Chinese economy has suffered, however, the intertwining of Alibaba and its homeland has become more of a liability for many investors. Shares have fallen about 30 percent over the past year and Alibaba has lost almost $29 billion in market capitalization this month alone.
Alibaba’s shares rose more than 3.3 percent in pre-market trading today to $71.80 on the New York Stock Exchange.
Nomura Securities analysts indicated the sell-off was unjustified in a research note released prior to the fourth-quarter earnings announcement.
“Investors might have thought of Alibaba as one of the biggest victims of China slowdown given its business scale. But we believe the impact of solid Chinese consumption should far outweigh the impact of a slowing economy on Alibaba and other Chinese e-commerce companies,” they wrote.
“Investors largely see Alibaba as a proxy for China’s economy, and right now there’s just not a lot of good news,” said Li Muzhi, a Hong Kong-based analyst at Arete Research Service LLP. “Alibaba has been trying to branch out revenue streams, but that takes time to develop.”
According to Alibaba Group chief financial officer Maggie Wu, strategically important investments in new revenue streams will continue in the coming year.
“Investment in 2016 will still be in strategically important areas — digital entertainment, cloud computing and cross-border business,” she said.